The Problem With Being an Early Adopter

[fr] A force de grimper dans le train super tôt (et d'y rester), j'ai des fois l'impression de rater le train suivant, plus rapide, où s'installe la majorité des gens. Est-ce que tous les pionniers sont condamnés à devenir un jour des has-been?

I’m an early adopter. Not as early as some, but much much earlier than most. And I’m a quick adopter: once I’ve adopted something, I tend to use it a lot. I also stop looking, when I have a tool that does the job. I try to behave a bit more like a satisficer and a little less like the maximizer that I am deep down inside.

One of the problems with being a pioneer/early adopter is that you tend to remain stuck with the first versions of things, and miss out the second wave implementations.

I open a francophone coworking space in 2008, relying on the anglophone coworking community for support, and when I come out from under my rock in 2012 I realize that there is a whole world of francophone coworking that has grown in the time being.

I’ve been using WordPress forever, but completely missed the switch to automatic updates — because I’ve been doing it by hand for so long that setting up FTP on my server seems like too much overhead.

I’ve been running my own server for a long time, and it was recently brought to my attention that Linode existed (thanks Bret).

I’ve been using Google Docs forever too, and the other day I discover Hackpad, and realize that maybe I’ve stopped being cutting-edge.

Is this what happens? Do all early adopters turn into has-beens at some point?

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4 Responses to The Problem With Being an Early Adopter

  1. Matthias says:

    Which reminds me, I haven’t been to koding.com for months. The thing about ‘early adopters’ is, I think, that they look for innovation.

    Here’s an example: Twitter was an innovation. They invented microblogging. So the early adopters joined it as soon as they heard of it.

    All the other microblogging services that showed up later (and still show up now and again) had new and interesting twists. But they weren’t innovations; they were variations of a theme. And for an early adopter, they’re just not that interesting. Early adopters are looking for real innovation, not just improvements.

  2. Trying to keep up is exhausting.

  3. Marie-Aude says:

    In a way, I do think so. We have a kind of similar situation at a state level, when you compare Africa to Europe (I don’t know about India), where there are really great uses of new technologies, especially with phones (like the Masaï cattle herder being able to trade their cows by sms from their own village directly on Nairobi markets)

    It’s the difference between being a technology fan, always looking for the newest thing, and being someone who really realizes things thanks to technology.

    In the examples you give, I think it’s also because your interests shifted, it’s been a very long time you have not written about plugin and WordPress development, for example, you are much more on the “content” side of the tool, because that’s what you need.

  4. Radhika says:

    Aargh yes. I’m technologically challenged, so catching up to updates, especially when I’m so sure that i got it ‘first’ is a pain. Unless pin pointed to, I wouldn’t know what the improvement is! I hope you have gone through http://www.indiais.org, because the India Is Global Photography Challenge ends in 2 weeks. All you need to do is talk about the India Is initiative. Add your experience and what you think defines that one moment that makes India unforgettable. Blog about it, and help us map India visually. Please send across the link to radhika@skarma.com, so I can get you on board as one of the official bloggers for the initiative. Do be a part of it!

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